Penrith are counting the cost of the loss of skipper Petero Civoniceva who is set to miss the rest of the 2009 season with a toe injury.
The 33-year-old ripped a tendon during the State of Origin decider in Sydney on last month.
It has since emerged that Civoniceva will require surgery to repair the injury, meaning he will miss the rest of the Panthers’ NRL campaign and Australia‘s Quad Nations series against England, France and New Zealand this autumn.
“I’ll be fine to start next season if I have the surgery now,” Civoniceva told AAP.
“We were hoping a rest of six or seven weeks would help it mend but the doctor feels surgery is the only solution.”
“I’d set myself a goal at the start of the year to go away on tour again but now I’ll just have to look ahead to next year,” he said.
The news is a massive blow to Penrith’s hopes of their first NRL title since 2003.
The Panthers have slipped to 8th in the NRL table after slumping to four losses in their last six games.